Unlike our rad-fem sisters at the National Organization for Women, we at the IWF don’t believe in male-bashing, but some of our readers think that we do it all the same.

Our board member best-selling author Christina Hoff Sommers, for example, used the words “male animal” in a recent lecture and also referred to women’s civilizing effect on men. I myself added that the attack on U.S. civilians in Fallujah looked like an all-male operation, so there might be something to what Christina said: And I added this: “I for one have often noted with dismay that manifestos from ‘men’s rights’ advocates usually end with a complaint about being forced to pay child support–and my sympathy for these guys tends to wane.” (See our Mailbags for April 1 and April 5.)
Uh-oh. Feathers were ruffled. So now I’ve opened up this site to the great debate: Is the IWF nice enough to men? Are we just another bunch of feminist bashers: Readers have been e-mailing furiously, and here’s a sample of the letters:

From R.B.:

“I am a male member of the IWF. Please note that I am responding with a degree of sarcasm that I feel is appropriate to the disrespectful attitude in which the piece refers to men…..I think ‘they’ (women) should be in the forefront of this and any future combat roles in this country’s wars, instead of just running off at the mouth about the violence of men, and the problems of men not meeting every need women. Who knows maybe men would be more civilized it they didn’t have to go to war from now on. Let’s find out. Send American women to fight all those bad foreign terrorists who fly planes into our buildings, and the guys will just stay home, sit in their rocking chairs, raise the kids, and make comments about women’s barbarity as there bones are being thrown around so foreign, smoldering cauldron of war. When we’ve lost as many millions of American women in war as we’ve lost American men, then and only then should men even talk about lifting a finger to give ‘equal’ support to combating our enemies who use violent force against us.

“My sympathy for these conservative male bashing females tends to wane, when they cry about leaving their children behind, and having to go fight in a war. They have reaped so much privilege from this country, and have faced so little life and death responsibility for our riches that it makes you sick. Why can’t they just quietly die in those wars, and send the child support checks regularly too.”

And from M.R.:

“I gather Ms. Sommers was attempting to ‘break down barriers’ around how we teach college women about their favorite subject (themselves and other women). Perhaps such a talk is the only way she sees into the halls of a feminized academic institution. Surely it’s an excellent choice to draw a large, liberal, female audience to the event. Be her topic as it may, it’s terribly disappointing to learn she adopted a derogatory tone towards boys and men. Perhaps this was another ploy to win the favor of those impressionable young feminist minds.

“But as a conservative, and as a woman, with the backdrop of her own excellent research on boys, the IWF report on how Title IX has affected college men, and the impressive analysis of the alleged gender gap in professor’s wages at MIT (you wouldn’t believe how quickly and unashamedly my liberal colleagues reject its research methods and findings), she must know better than to stoop to the level of Marilyn French and her ilk. Boys don’t need women to civilize them. Boys are more civilized in many ways than girls. When boys play, they enforce the rules of the game on each other. Those who continually break the rules are ejected. That’s civilized, and they learn to behave this way mainly from men. Of course there’s rough physical play involved in boys’ behavior, but it’s nothing compared with the vicious personal attacks that young females routinely hurl at each other. By comparison, girls’ play is a free-for-all drama of competing queen bees, each attempting to declare herself princess and enforce her ad-hoc rules….

“As for the role of women, they were present in Mogadishu when the Somalis celebrated killing the U.S. Rangers. In this case, the women didn’t ‘civilize’ their men at all. On the contrary, they actively and gleefully celebrated the massacre, trampling on the dead American men with their bare feet and spitting on the bodies…The IWF woman votes for a government that sends only men to fight a war, and proclaims herself morally superior for not fighting. Maybe there’s something to this civilizing effect of women after all. They civilize themselves by excusing themselves from having to do anything uncivilized. If something violent, dirty, or ugly needs doing, they simply get men to do it.”

And from a female reader, S.C.:

“In your recent inquiry into whether or not IWF is ‘mean’ to men, you raised a deeper and more far-reaching question: does our current culture generally defer to women in the court of family law?

“As far as IWF’s attitude toward men, my impressions thus far have been that there is a great respect for the good, decent men out there that are representative of many of our husbands, sons, fathers and grandfathers. Granted, there isn’t a lot of talk about men– it is, after all, the Independent WOMEN’S Forum. But discussions generally come across to me as being generally fair to men.

“As to the second qestion, family courts represent radical feminism run amok – women are the only ones with the intellectual and emotional ability to raise children or do anything else in this country. This does vary from state to state and locality to locality, but generally speaking, there are many cases where a woman has received FULL custody for no good reason with the father restricted to weekend visits and an occasional holiday. There are also more instances where joint custody has been awarded when it would have certainly been in the child’s best interest to give the father sole custody with the mother being given restricted visitation rights. The injustice doled out on a daily basis to men in family court is unconscionable….

“The pendulum has swung – injustices once visited on women have been heaped upon the heads of men, and radical feminists watch gleefully as our fathers, husbands and sons ‘pay’ for the injustices delivered by the hands of other men in a bygone day. The feminist agenda is not one of equality for all but rather one of placing women superior to men. This is the line of thinking that prevails in family court.”

So: Should women really be sent to combat? Do family court judges discriminate against fathers? Are women just as uncivilized as men? We welcome your thoughts